adventures in nature

east coast dinosaurs n such

This week I spent some time on the coast in South Carolina … lush, thick, vibrant greenery; tidal marshes penetrated by thin waterways that look like blood vessels when viewed from a plane above, infusing life into the watery landscapes whose heartbeat is the pulse of the tides that pump in and out each day. The flat, sandy coastal pine forests of North Carolina transition quickly into the marshes and swamps found in South Carolina, a land/water-scape which intensifies in density, variety and beauty as it proliferates down through Georgia and Florida and wraps around the Gulf Coast. This place is, for now, the border between a more constant warm climate to the South and a seasonal fluctuation of weather for lands to the North.

I say for now because of the general warming trend that has influenced the behavior of creatures such as the wood stork, which typically nests in Florida, but has now started to nest further north in South Carolina as temperatures increase globally. I took these pictures in Pickney National Wildlife Refuge, which now has fresh water ponds roped off this time of year due to the endangered wood stork nests in the area (new this past year or two)  in addition to the normal rookeries of tri-colored herons, cattle egrets, and ibises.

The wood stork looks like the missing link between dinosaurs and birds, a miniature pterosaur-like creature that escaped the fate of its Cretaceous mates and who secretly lives on here on Earth, just waiting to re-establish the kingdom of “terrible lizards,” (aka dinosaurs) in case humans (and the next logical alternatives, apes, cockroaches and/or “Jersey Shore” mutants) don’t make it  …

wood stork / Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge SC

wood stork / Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge SC

wood stork landing / Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge SC

wood stork landing / Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge SC

This time marks the brightest view of the planet Venus in our sky, it is very close to Earth right now and getting closer, but it will start to dim despite its proximity to us because of its position relative to the sun (it is “waning” similar to how we see the moon in its phases – though the moon is always approximately the same distance from us, as opposed to planets). Look now to the West in the evening to see Venus at its brightest, even with binoculars you might be able to see some detail of one our closest neighbor plants.

waxing moon and venus

waxing moon and venus

In addition to the wood storks and other wading birds, I saw another special sight  … the ibis (both the rare white ibis and the white-faced ibis).

white ibises and white-faced ibis / Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge SC

white ibises and white-faced ibis / Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge SC

white ibis stand / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge SC

white ibis stand / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge SC

white ibis in flight / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge SC

white ibis in flight / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge SC

I always appreciate seeing a great blue heron, this one sat on the side of the pond, still looking spectacular, while some of these other less commonly seen birds (for my eyes!) captivated me and dominated the viewfinder of my camera. The crows, osprey and brown pelicans (not pictured) also transfixed me, as usual. Another treat was seeing an anhinga (relative of the cormorant) who perched close by to preen for a bit – also known as a “snake bird” due to its habit of floating just under the surface of the water with only its long, thin neck and head showing.

great blue heron / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge

great blue heron / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge

osprey with fish / coastal South Carolina

osprey with fish / coastal South Carolina

anhinga / coastal South Carolina

anhinga / coastal South Carolina

morning stretch, crow / coastal South Carolina

morning stretch, crow / coastal South Carolina

osprey with fish / coastal South Carolina

osprey with fish / coastal South Carolina

osprey soaring / coastal South Carolina

osprey soaring / coastal South Carolina

osprey / coastal South Carolina

osprey / coastal South Carolina

moth / coastal South Carolina

moth / coastal South Carolina

mystery lizard (anole?) / coastal SC

mystery lizard (anole?) / coastal SC

butterfly / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge SC

butterfly / Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge SC

special grandfather live oak tree w moss / coastal SC

special grandfather live oak tree w moss / coastal SC

One response

  1. KateD

    These look amazing! The colors are great – and what an interesting array of birds. Thanks for sharing!

    May 4, 2012 at 2:15 am

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